{ singapore } osteria mozza

9:11 AM sians 0 Comments

the chef with the orange crocs. 

it's the attraction of the brightly neon colored crocs. 

come for the orange crocs, stay for the endearing charm of the person wearing them.

when i first watched chef mario batali on iron chef america - a cuddly (even almost teddy bear-like) chef in his white coat and apron, preparing five beautiful italian dishes with a cheerful demeanor even when he was under the pressure of intense culinary competition. in fact, he looked like he was having a blast. 

it was such a lasting impression that since then, mario batali has been one of my favorite chefs.
by the end of that episode, eating in one of his restaurants became a goal of mine.

that was nearly nine years ago.

so you'd imagine how overwhelmed i was with a bittersweet feeling when chef batali opened eataly in chicago.

... okay fine, upset probably described my feelings more accurately because eataly opened merely a year and a half after i had left chicago. i was scrolling my instagram feed on eataly with envy and all i wanted was a plate (or a couple) of freshly made pasta, a cup of gelato and freshly baked focaccia.

about a year ago, osteria mozza came into my life when a friend told me he found out about the restaurant during his food hunt in singapore. located in the grandoise marina bay sands, it was on my list of 'must-go' even before i knew when my next visit to our neighboring country would be.

finally, my "mild" disappointment was appeased when i was finally seated across from my dining companion in the open dining space, adorned in dark wood contrasted by the pristine white table cloths accentuated by the marble table counters that lined the back walls. i drank in the sophisticated yet casual ambience as my excitement soared with a hint of expectation.

the friendly server came by with a smile, ready to take my order patiently as i mulled over the menu - while i learned how to pronounce my pasta correctly...with very little success. this was clear however -- pasta was a must. and a shared appetizer to start with.

they started us off with the amuse-bouche of homemade ricotta cheese with olive tapenade, finished lightly with olive oil atop a cheese cracker. a pleasant texture of the milky ricotta was quickly distracted by the olive flavor imparted by the tapenade. a sprinkle of salt would have featured the flavors in a more pronounced manner but a lovely introduction.

antipasti :: chargrilled octopus | with potatoes, celery & lemon (sgd 27)

a mini tower of chargrilled octopus rested on a nest of shaved scallion with hidden thin slices of celery upon the layer of beautifully cooked potatoes that still had a nice bite.

"it is best to eat it with the greens," the server recommended as he placed the plate in the middle of the table.

getting a bit of everything on my plate, i couldn't resist taking just a bite of the octopus on its own.
"ooo that is slightly charred..." i was slightly taken aback by the burnt edges from the octopus.
unknowingly, i just had to say it just as our server walked past our table and when he double backed, he repeated, almost impatiently, "this is best with the greens!"

i understood his good intentions and yes, he was absolutely right.
but...it's just that i have a habit to try the elements on its own, most of the time.

the greens were dressed in the lemon juice and olive oil, where the mild onion notes, fresh from the lemon juice balanced the charred flavors from the octopus beautifully. a slight crunch from the celery and the potatoes, seasoned perfectly then the tenderness of the octopus. each ingredient had a purpose and this dish was best when all the ingredients were eaten in a single bite.

'this was a good start,' i thought with a smile.

pasta :: orecchiette | with fennel sausage & swiss chard (sgd 27)

a signature dish of mario batali, orecchiette from the southern region of italy is paired with peppery sausage bits -- maybe it was a bit too peppery. the freshly made pasta, cooked al dente gives a lovely chewiness that can never be found in store bought dry pastas. however, that may be the only highlight for me.

to be fair, the server had explained the pasta would be spicy in the peppery kind of way. but it was heavy, almost monotonous with each forkful - it was probably the fat rendered from the sausage, coating the tongue. some freshness and lightness of herbs could have gone a long way to bring the flavors to a full circle. it was missing the balance of flavors that was masterfully depicted by the appetizer.

pasta :: ricotta gnocchi | with wild mushrooms & asparagus (sgd 29)

i get nervous with gnocchi but my friend did not.

before i go any further, allow me to explain myself. 
several years ago, i've had probably the best gnocchi i've ever tasted where the gnocchi's texture was the ideal embodiment of pillow-y clouds - in the most literal sense - but with a sturdiness yet tender. it had became the yard sticks of all future gnocchis, which had been disappointing, thus far. 

she generously offered some and the flavors were lovely, lightly hearty -- almost familiar.
texturally, it was delicately tender and somewhat melts almost instantly in the mouth. it was good but didn't mange to upstage our shared dish of octopus.

caffe :: latte (sgd 6)

an excellent cup of latte to end the dinner right. the familiar bitterness of the espresso lingered with different full bodied notes, announcing its presence against the milk.

tldr // osteria mozza. this restaurant was one i had been dreaming to try from the first time i watched chef batali's battle on iron chef america. freshly made pastas cooked al dente with a slight bite are definitely my kind of thing especially when they offer freshly grated cheese at your table. but not when it is doused with an overpowering flavors that lacked a harmony i expected. maybe that's just it - it could be because of the increasingly budding expectations i've had over the nine years....or it could be that i picked the wrong pasta from the menu that just wasn't what i was craving for.

even so, eataly and babbo are still in my future plans, hopefully one day.

nonetheless, while you are at osteria mozza, don't miss out on the chargrilled octopus for sharing (or not!) but don't forget that "it's best with the greens!"

osteria mozza | location 
2 bayfront avenue,
b1-42-46, galleria level,
marina bay sands, singapore
{opens mon - sun: 5pm - 11pm;
weekends only: 12 pm - 3:30pm}

disclaimer this is written based on personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.